Dropbox definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The ultimate guide to cloud-based file sharing
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Dropbox is a personal cloud storage service (sometimes referred to as an online backup service) that is frequently used for file sharing and collaboration.  The Dropbox application is available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux desktop operating systems. There are also apps for  iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry devices.

The service provides 2 gigabytes (GB) of storage for free and up to 100 GB on various for-fee plans. Another option, Dropbox for Teams, provides 350 GB storage. The user data is stored on Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) and protected with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Advanced Encryption System (AES) 256-bit encryption.

After installation of the associated application, a Dropbox folder appears with the user’s other folders. Users can save files to the folder, add new folders, and drag and drop files among folders just as if they were all local. Files in the Dropbox folder can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection – the user just has to log in to his account to upload, download and share files.

To share a file, the user can generate a URL for it from the Dropbox website and send it out so that others can view it. Folders can be shared by sending an invitation from the Dropbox website. Recipients that don’t have Dropbox accounts will have to sign up to access the folder. Once a folder is shared, it will appear in the folder system for everyone who has access to it and all members will be able to make changes to files. All versions of files are saved. 

Dropbox has usually been considered a consumer market service. However, it is increasingly being used within the enterprise and as such is an example of the IT consumerization trend.

The service is named for the repositories used by banks, post offices, video stores and libraries to allow people to drop items off securely.


See also: cloud storage backup, online backup, MozyEnterprise, cloud storage provider, cloud services reseller, VAR (value-added reseller)



This was first published in November 2011

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